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Friday, September 12, 2008

Managing Teleworkers

As gas prices continue to skyrocket, more and more companies are using "teleworking" as an option for knowledge workers. Studies have demonstrated that increasing the number of teleworkers would ease the demand for gasoline, lowering fuel prices and lessening rush hour traffic.

In fact, about 28 million American workers do at least part of their jobs from home offices, telework centers, or other remote locations, according to a recent survey by the International Telework Association and Council.

Sometimes referred to as telecommuting or remote working, the benefits of being able to work from anywhere is just one more tool organizations are using to attract, motivate and retain talent and to foster a healthy work-life balance.

Fortunately for savvy managers, there's actually little difference between managing the performance of a teleworker and managing the employee who works at the main office.

Here are some guidelines for managing teleworkers:

  • Break employee work into objectives, projects, tasks, and action items. Assigning, tracking, evaluating, and rewarding work output using these specifics dramatically improves your knowledge of work activities, and helps with consistency in establishing expectations.
  • Telework needs to be performance-based - not activity-based. Just because you can't see an employee doesn't mean he's not hard at work. Tasks and projects must have clear goals, deadlines, and outcomes - they must be measureable. Results are more important than the activities themselves. Focus on the results of work performed not where it is performed.
  • Keep connected through technology. Phone, email, instant messaging - all driven by the Internet - are enabling teleworkers to be connected - and stay connected.
  • Establish a regular means of communications. Status updates and progress reporting needs to be done regularly and consistently.

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